In order to complete our collection of reviews of airport lounges across the UK, we’ve asked for the help of our readers.
Reader Anne kindly sent us a review of the Escape Plus Lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 2.
You can find all of our other UK airport lounge reviews here. We’re making good progress now!
Over to Anne:
“We flew out of Manchester T2, heading for Boston on one of the £999 Virgin Upper Class fares which Head for Points covered back in January. Virgin doesn’t have a Clubhouse at Manchester unfortunately, the invite card to the 3rd party lounge you receive at check in even apologises for this, so we headed for the Terminal 2 Escape Plus lounge instead.
The lounge is situated on the 1st floor of the main departures area. Coming out of the lift we followed the sign for Escape, only to find ourselves at the wrong lounge. There are actually two Escape lounges, one for Priority Pass, Lounge Club and paid entry; and this one (Escape Plus) for business class passengers only, primarily Virgin Atlantic and Qatar Airways.
It’s fair to say this causes a huge amount of confusion. Not only did we initially go to the wrong lounge but also lost count of the number of people refused entry and sent to the other location during the hour and a half we were there.
I took a picture of the signage to the main lounge and entry to the business class lounge door to illustrate just how confusing this is. There is no information outside either lounge to explain entry requirements so I would say there is significant scope for improvement here.
When we arrived at around 12.15 on a Saturday both the main Escape and the neighbouring Aspire lounge were closed to Priority Pass and walk ups. During our abortive entry to the main Escape lounge we heard people being told to wait an hour and try again. I’d been hoping to drop into the Aspire lounge as well but it wasn’t to be, although by the time we left at 13.45 it was available again.
Having finally found our way into the business class Escape Plus lounge we found a compact space with seating for around 45-50 people, so compact that the front desk was situated entirely inside the lounge itself. The lounge was about 80% full with only a Qatar Airways Doha flight and our Virgin Atlantic Boston flight supplying the visitors so far as I could tell.
The lounge was clean and tidy and the decor looked fresh. The temperature was a bit chilly for our taste but I appreciate this is a very personal preference. There were a couple of large windows to one side but the principal view was back into the main terminal, although planes at departure gates could just about be seen outside.
The selection of newspapers was limited, with only the i and Telegraph available; the magazine selection was similarly underwhelming.
Wifi was passable if a bit pedestrian but USB charging points were available at each table, cleverly incorporated into the base of the drinks menu holder.
There are no toilets for the exclusive use of this lounge, instead they are located outside and shared with the other Escape lounge and the Aspire lounge, unsurprisingly they were busy when we visited.
There was a good choice of hot and cold food available for lunch. Although we didn’t try it, the curry seemed very popular.
The selection of cold meat and salad items was very acceptable and gluten free bread was available on request.
The most visibly appealing section of the food offering was probably the cake stand, they tasted pretty good as well.
Drinks were entirely self service, champagne had to be paid for but everything else was complimentary. There was the usual style of coffee machine and plenty of fresh fruit juice.
One positive point to note was that lounge staff were doing last calls, there were plenty of screens as well though so really no excuse for not making your flight.
Overall the T2 business class Escape Plus lounge is a perfectly acceptable place to pass an hour or two, and certainly better than the main terminal which is cramped and difficult to move around. Not having a Clubhouse at Manchester does detract from the Virgin Upper Class experience somewhat, but this is of course partially reflected in the cheaper prices available compared to flying with Virgin from Heathrow and Gatwick.”
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 2021)
As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges. The card has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points which is a special offer running to 2nd November 2021. Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.
The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.
PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.